Proud to be Filipino, but Ashamed to Look Filipino
an article by Chelsea Najera
Pinoy pride has become extremely important in Filipino culture. It is at its strongest when the Philippines gets international representation. Despite this, there are still various insecurities towards Filipino characteristics. Is it really pride? Or is it a desire for international validation?
The article “The ugly side of Pinoy Pride”, accurately outlines that Filipinos are obsessed with successful international Pinoys, simply because they share the same ethnicity. It is so easy to be proud of international Filipino victories, such as Manny Pacquiao’s boxing legacy or our consistent Miss Universe crowns. However, this often leads to a narcissistic attitude that hides internal shame and insecurities. A study from the University of British Columbia in 2012 discovered that this is called ‘hubristic pride’ - the pride of achieving something because you share similar characteristics. It’s like an unbalanced group project; only one person does all the hard work, but the rest of the group still shares the success because they were lucky enough to be in the same group. Interestingly, the research found that hubristic pride creates a sense arrogance and superiority, often leading to racism and harmful prejudices. This was particularly evident in the most recent Miss Universe competition. The current South African Miss Universe titleholder Zozibini Tuni was swarmed with shocking racist comments that were clearly fueled by colorism from Filipino netizens. Such attitudes are not only demonstrated towards other marginalized groups, but also to other fellow Filipinos.
Pinoy pride is usually absent when it comes to celebrating authentic Filipina beauty. We may be victorious in numerous beauty pageants, but most of our ‘representatives’ are either half white or mestiza (fair) with Eurocentric features. The Philippine media further perpetuates this rigid beauty standard, constantly advertising skin-whitening brands. Teleseryes even go as far as ridiculing dark-skinned characters. Insecurities about typical Filipino features such as morena (tan) skin and flat noses is a product of colonialism. The Philippines was under Spanish and American colonization for more than 300 years. Inevitably, western beauty standards infiltrated Filipino culture and continues to be glorified today. Having long straight silky hair, a high nose and fair skin has become the ideal for many Filipinas. This can be toxic. At the age of 5 I was already being told to pinch my Filipino nose for it to become ‘pointier’. The colonial mindset has also resulted in a greater desire to become ethnically ambiguous. Many Filipinos eagerly identify themselves as ‘a quarter’ Spanish, even though their greatest grandparents do not have an ounce of Spanish blood. Where is the Pinoy pride?
Needless to say, it is extremely important to be proud of our culture. It unites the nation and is the ultimate expression of nationalism. However, we should try and avoid ultranationalism. We shouldn’t only be proud when the Philippines has been recognized on the international stage. We should always be proud. It’s also important for us to accept and love our true Filipina identities. There is no point in Pinoy pride if you are embarrassed of your Filipino characteristics or are reluctant to admit that you are purely Filipino. Learning to embrace your Filipino-ness is the most authentic pride there is.
As a Filipina, I've noticed that we Filipino patriotism is the strongest when we are recognised internationally. However, while we are the most proud, I have also noticed that there's a lot of self-hatred towards our Filipino identities. My article explores the reality of toxic pride and the irony of how many 'proud' Filipinos resent their identity.
My name is Chelsea Najera and I am young Filipina girl living in the UK. Social justice issues are extremely important to me, and as an Asian I want to use my platform to educate and inform others about Asian culture and the problems that our community faces. I also love fashion and I write a lot of fashion commentary and articles! Instagram: Personal @chelsyves Fashion account @dreamyjacques